What Is Gotu Kola?

A Southern Asian herb studied for its use in circulation, mood, and wound healing.

Gotu kola is a perennial plant of the parsley family. It has a scientific name of Centella asiatica (C. asiatica). Gotu kola is native to southern Asia. However, it also grows in other parts of the world, such as Mexico, South America, and South Africa.

Gotu kola has certain active constituents (parts) called saponins or triterpenoids, which may include asiaticoside, madecassoside, and madasiatic acid. These plant substances are likely responsible for how gotu kola works.

This article discusses what you should know about gotu kola—its potential uses, side effects, and interactions.

Centella asiatica morning dew
errorfoto/Getty Images

Dietary supplements are not regulated like drugs in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLab, or NSF. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, talking to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and checking in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications is essential.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Gotu kola, containing active constituents (parts) called saponins or triterpenoids, which may include asiaticoside, madecassoside, and madasiatic acid
  • Alternative name(s): Gotu kola, Centella asiatica, Centella, Brahmi, Hydrocotyle, Indian pennywort, Luei gong gen, Marsh pennywort
  • Legal status: Legal in most states (United States).
  • Suggested dose: May vary based on part of the plant, dosage form, and medical condition
  • Safety considerations: Not recommended during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or with children. Gotu kola may also interact with some prescription medications, herbs, and supplements.

Uses of Gotu Kola

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Like many natural products, people may use gotu kola for various reasons. But there are several studies assessing gotu kola for the following potential uses.

Brain-related Effects

In a small clinical study, results suggest that older adults—with a mean age of roughly 65 years old—may benefit from gotu kola. In fact, older adults experienced better moods. What's more, the study participants showed improved cognitive function. Cognitive function may include the following abilities:

  • Attention
  • Decision-making
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Problem-solving
  • Reasoning
  • Thinking

However, in a systematic review and meta-analysis (review and analysis of a collection of studies), gotu kola didn't seem to improve cognitive function. But it might improve mood by increasing alertness and relieving anger.

Further well-designed clinical trials with appropriate gotu kola doses are warranted.

Blood Circulation

Historically, gotu kola had many uses. Today, it might be used as a phlebotonic (tones the walls of veins). In other words, people might use it for chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

CVI is a medical condition that tends to happen in your legs. In this condition, your blood vessels have trouble circulating (moving) blood back toward the heart. So, you may have some swelling as the blood pools in your legs. People with CVI may also experience ulcers.

In a systematic review, phlebotonics—like gotu kola—slightly relieved swelling compared to a placebo (a substance without medication). But gotu kola didn't seem to heal any ulcers. Since these studies were short-term, well-designed clinical trials are still necessary with longer-term data in a larger group of people.

Wound Healing

In a small clinical trial, gotu kola was compared to silver sulfadiazine (SSD) in study participants with burn wounds. In this study, gotu kola was in an ointment dosage form called Centiderm.

Results from this clinical trial suggest that Centiderm may benefit people with burn wounds. But in this study, the burn wounds had to be less than 10 percent of the total body surface area (TBSA) and be on the limbs (arms or legs). Moreover, the burn wounds had to be only 48 hours old or less.

However, in another small study, herbal creams—like gotu kola—didn't seem to prevent or delay radiodermatitis. The study participants received radiation in this clinical trial as part of their breast cancer treatment. And radiodermatitis is a skin reaction to or side effect of radiation.

Based on these studies, the results are mixed. Larger and more well-designed studies are warranted.

What Are the Side Effects of Gotu Kola?

Like many medications and natural products, side effects are possible with gotu kola.

Common Side Effects

In general, side effects with gotu kola are rare. But the following side effects are possible at higher doses.

You may also notice some skin-related side effects with topical forms of gotu kola.

Severe Side Effects

Severe allergic reaction is a serious side effect possible with any medication. If you're having a severe allergic reaction to gotu kola, symptoms may include breathing difficulties, itchiness, and rash.

Another potentially serious side effect may include liver problems. If you're having liver problems, symptoms may include dark-colored urine and yellowing of the eyes.


Your healthcare provider may advise against using gotu kola if any of the following applies to you:

  • Severe allergic reaction: If you have a severe allergic reaction to gotu kola and any of its components (ingredients), you shouldn't take this medication.
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding: There's limited information on gotu kola during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Contact your healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and risks of gotu kola while pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Children: Gotu kola isn't recommended for children.
  • Adults over 65: Older adults have participated in gotu kola-related clinical trials—like for cognitive function and mood. But well-designed studies are still necessary to assess the effectiveness and safety of gotu kola. Some older adults may be more sensitive to medication side effects. For this reason, take gotu kola with caution. And consider starting at lower doses.
  • Diabetes: Gotu kola may lower your blood glucose (sugar) levels. For this reason, your healthcare provider may caution you about taking gotu kola with your diabetes medications, such as insulin (ex., Humalog) or metformin.
  • High cholesterol: Gotu kola may change cholesterol levels. For this reason, talk to your healthcare provider before using gotu kola if you take cholesterol medication.
  • Liver problems: Liver problems might be possible with gotu kola. For this reason, your healthcare provider may recommend against gotu kola if you have a liver condition.

Dosage: How Much Gotu Kola Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

While there are studies with gotu kola in humans, more extensive, well-designed studies are still necessary. Moreover, gotu kola has various dosage forms, which might be used for different medical conditions.

For these reasons, there are no guidelines on the appropriate dosage of gotu kola for any condition. If you take gotu kola, follow your healthcare provider's recommendations or label instructions.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Gotu Kola?

While side effects are rare, they are possible with long-term use and high doses of gotu kola. So, overdoses with gotu kola might be similar to its common or severe side effects—but exaggerated or excessive.

If you think you're experiencing an overdose or life-threatening symptoms, get medical help immediately.


Use caution when taking gotu kola with the following medications:

  • Cholesterol medications: Gotu kola may change cholesterol levels. For this reason, talk to your healthcare provider before using gotu kola if you take cholesterol medication. So, it might change the effects of your cholesterol medications, such as Lipitor (atorvastatin).
  • Diabetes medications: Gotu kola might lower blood glucose (sugar) levels. For this reason, gotu kola may have additive effects with your diabetes medications, such as insulin (ex., Humalog) or metformin. Symptoms of low blood sugar may include sweating, tremors, and excessive tiredness.
  • Diuretics (water pills): Gotu kola may help you eliminate excess water through your urine. But combining gotu kola with water pills—like Lasix (furosemide)—may result in too much water loss. This may also lead to abnormal levels of different electrolytes (salts) in your body.
  • Medications with potential effects on the liver: Liver problems might be possible with gotu kola. And this is more likely if you combine gotu kola and other medications with similar side effects. For example, you may want to typically avoid high doses of Tylenol (acetaminophen) and gotu kola.
  • Sleep-inducing medications: Gotu kola may have slowing effects on the brain. Medications with similar effects may include medications that relieve anxiety symptoms and sleeping problems. But combining gotu kola with these medications may increase the likelihood of side effects. Examples of these medications may include Valium (diazepam) and Ambien (zolpidem).

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredient list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Gotu Kola

Since storage instructions may vary for different natural products, carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container. But in general, keep your medications tightly closed and out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet. Try to store your medicines in a cool and dry place.

Discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging. Avoid putting unused and expired medicines down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA's website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired medicines. You can also find disposal boxes in your area.

Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about how to dispose of your medications or supplements.

Similar Supplements

Some of gotu kola's potential uses may include brain-related effects (e.g., mood and memory), wound healing (e.g., burns), and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). And other potential similar supplements may include the following:

Grape seed extract: People may use grape seed extract for several different reasons, including CVI. Symptoms may include swelling as blood pools in the legs or ulcers. Moderate amounts of grape seed extract are generally safe and well-tolerated for up to 11 months of use. Like gotu kola, little information about the effects and safety of grape seed extract while pregnant or breastfeeding.

St. John's wort: People may use St. John's wort for various reasons, including brain-related effects (e.g., mood and memory) and wound healing. St. John's wort seems to be safe for up to 12 weeks. However, it can interact with numerous medications. It also has side effects, some similar to gotu kola. For example, St. John's wort may cause dizziness, headaches, and digestive system-related effects (e.g., nausea, stomach upset, etc.). But St. John's wort is likely unsafe while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Don't take these supplements together or with gotu kola until you first talk with your healthcare provider. They can help prevent possible interactions and side effects. They can also ensure you’re giving these supplements a good trial at appropriate doses.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the most common dosage of gotu kola?

    Gotu kola is available in several different dosage forms—with liquid potentially being the most common.

  • Is gotu kola available from manufacturers in the United States?

    Yes. There are gotu kola products made by manufacturers in the United States.

  • How do I take gotu kola safely?

    In general, to safely take natural medications—like gotu kola—inform your healthcare providers and pharmacists about medication changes. This includes over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, natural medicines, and supplements.
    They can help prevent possible interactions and side effects. They can also ensure you’re giving gotu kola a good trial at appropriate doses.

Sources of Gotu Kola & What to Look For

There are several different sources of gotu kola.

Food Sources of Gotu Kola

Gotu kola is naturally available as a plant from the parsley family. Gotu kola juice can be added to milk. This plant can also be cooked in fat (ex., butter).

Gotu Kola Supplements

Gotu kola is available in several forms, including capsules and tablets. If you have difficulties swallowing pills, gotu kola might also be available in liquid and powder dosage forms. Gotu kola is also available in topical products, such as ointments. There are also vegetarian options.

Your specific product will depend on your preference and what you hope to get regarding effects. Each product may work a bit differently, depending on the form. So, following your healthcare provider's recommendations or label directions is essential.


Gotu kola is a plant from the parsley family. This plant may have some potential brain-related effects—like improving mood, but results are mixed regarding gotu kola's effects on cognition (e.g., memory, etc.). Gotu kola may also relieve swelling symptoms in people with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). But this plant has mixed results regarding the healing of ulcers or burns.

While side effects are rare with gotu kola, side effects are still possible—especially at high doses and prolonged use. There are also several potential interactions to consider. More high-quality research with extensive and well-designed clinical trials is still needed to study gotu kola's effectiveness and safety. Before taking gotu kola, reach out to your pharmacist or healthcare provider to help you safely achieve your health goals.

16 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ganie IB, Ahmad Z, Shahzad A, et al. Biotechnological Intervention and Secondary Metabolite Production in Centella asiatica L. Plants (Basel). 2022;11(21):2928. Published 2022 Oct 30. doi:10.3390/plants11212928

  2. Matsuda H, Morikawa T, Ueda H, Yoshikawa M. Medicinal foodstuffs. XXVII. Saponin constituents of gotu kola (2): structures of new ursane- and oleanane-type triterpene oligoglycosides, centellasaponins B, C, and D, from Centella asiatica cultivated in Sri LankaChem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2001;49(10):1368-1371. doi:10.1248/cpb.49.1368

  3. Wattanathorn J, Mator L, Muchimapura S, et al. Positive modulation of cognition and mood in the healthy elderly volunteer following the administration of Centella asiatica. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2008;116(2):325-332. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2007.11.038

  4. Puttarak P, Dilothornsakui P, Saokaew S, et al. Effects of Centella asiatica (L.) urb. on cognitive function and mood-related outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):10646. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-09823-9

  5. Martinez-Zapata MJ, Vernooij RWM, Simancas-Racines D, et al. Phlebotonics for venous insufficiency. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2020;11:CD003229. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003229.pub4

  6. Saeidinia A, Keihanian F, Lashkari AP, et al. Partial-thickness burn wounds healing by topical treatment. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017;96(9): e6168. doi: 10.1097%2FMD.0000000000006168

  7. Thanthong A, Nanthong R, Kongwattanakul S, et al. Prophylaxis of radiation-induced dermatitis in patients with breast cancer using herbal creams: a prospective randomized controlled trial. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2020;19:1534735420920714. doi: 10.1177%2F1534735420920714

  8. Bylka W, Znajdek-Awiżeń P, Studzińska-Sroka E, Dańczak-Pazdrowska A, Brzezińska M. Centella asiatica in dermatology: an overviewPhytother Res. 2014;28(8):1117-1124. doi:10.1002/ptr.5110

  9. Haslan H, Suhaimi FH, Das S. Herbal Supplements and Hepatotoxicity: A Short ReviewNat Prod Commun. 2015;10(10):1779-1784.

  10. National Institute of DIabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. LiverTox: Acute liver failure.

  11. Kusumastuti SA, Nugrahaningsih DAA, Wahyuningsih MSH. Centella asiatica (L.) extract attenuates inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity in a coculture of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced 3T3-L1 adipocytes and RAW 264.7 macrophagesDrug Discov Ther. 2019;13(5):261-267. doi:10.5582/ddt.2019.01052

  12. Kumari S, Deori M, Elancheran R, Kotoky J, Devi R. In vitro and In vivo Antioxidant, Anti-hyperlipidemic Properties and Chemical Characterization of Centella asiatica (L.) ExtractFront Pharmacol. 2016;7:400. Published 2016 Oct 28. doi:10.3389/fphar.2016.00400

  13. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Grape seed extract.

  14. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. St. John's wort.

  15. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement label database.

  16. MedlinePlus. A guide to herbal remedies.

By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.

Originally written by Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

Learn about our editorial process